The CNA certification examination, which is formally known as the National Nurse Aid Assessment Program (NNAAP), is conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). It is the final hurdle for aspiring certified nursing assistants to be listed in their respective state nurse aide registry and, thus, be eligible for employment in said capacity. In many ways, it is also the start to a viable career in nursing since the certified nursing assistant program is a stepping stone toward becoming a registered nurse.
Two Main Parts
The certification exam consists of two main parts: first, the written or oral exam; and second, the hands-on skills demonstration test. These two parts are conducted on the same day with the applicants required to pass both components before being conferred the title of certified nursing assistant.
Online sites and schools offering CNA certification programs often provide for review materials for the NNAAP although the textbooks are sufficient for the purpose. Practice tests can also be secured via traditional and digital means although it must be emphasized that the NCSBN has not produced and endorsed any practice test material.
Written or Oral Examination
The first part of the certification exam is the written test. The number of questions and the specific questions contained in the certification test are determined by the state nursing board, which accounts for variations from one state to the next. On average, there are 70 questions in multiple-choice format, all of which are written in the English language.
As with the questions, the passing percentage varies with each state. We always suggest asking the state board where you plan to take the certification exam for additional details.
These exam tips are helpful in passing the examination:
• Arrive on time. Most, if not all, testing centers will close their doors on latecomers.
• Be ready with your supplies including pencils and pens, erasers and sharpeners, and snacks.
• Follow instructions especially when filling in the blanks, shading in the answers and answering certain portions of the exam only. Keep in mind that following instructions is half of the battle won.
• Ask questions regarding the test papers only from the proctors, if doing so is allowed. Asking your seatmate can be grounds for minus points or disqualification.
If you are uncomfortable for any reason with taking the written exam, you can choose to take the oral exam. You have the choice of either English or Spanish although the questions remain the same.
The second part of the certification exam is the hands-on skills demonstration. You are required to demonstrate competency in 5 practical skills as a nursing assistant, said skills of which have been randomly selected from 25 skills. Keep in mind that these are skills that you should have mastered while still a student in the CNA training program.
The skills demonstration test is conducted in an environment closely resembling the work environment of a certified nursing assistant, say, a hospital room. All the necessary supplies, tools and equipment are available for use by the candidate whiles the proctors are also on hand to answer any question before the test begins and to observe the proceedings.
The five randomly selected skills should be performed in the proper manner within a given time frame. In most states, the candidate is given 25 to 30 minutes to complete the required skills demonstration.
Indeed, preparation for the certification exam should start from the first day of your life as a student. Everything else will follow, so to speak.